Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Performance Anxiety

A few months ago, Dom came home and asked me if he could sign up for the talent show. At first, I thought he was joking. Surely no child of mine would want to willingly get up and like... do stuff in front of people??!! But he assured me he was serious and that he wanted to perform a martial arts routine he learned from his Tae Kwon Do class. I told him I'd talk to his dad about it. Charlie talked it over with Dom and asked him to demonstrate the routine, and asked him if he'd be OK getting on stage to perform, etc. Dom was so incredibly excited about it, so we signed the permission slip and turned it in. 

He went to several talent show practices and dress rehearsals this past month, and everything seemed fine. He told us about his practices and told us about some of the other kids' routines that he enjoyed. Fast forward to yesterday - all talent show kids were slated to perform 3 times. Once in the morning for half of the school, once in the afternoon for the other half, and then once in the evening so that parents and family could attend. 

I have to admit, I was getting excited. I wanted to be THAT mom who cried as she watched her baby on stage, breaking boards and executing punches and kicks like a pro... And then I received a voicemail from one of his teachers. 

She said that Dom was in tears and that he didn't want to perform and was extremely upset. She told me that of course no one was going to force him to perform, but she wanted to let me know how upset he was and that we wouldn't be seeing him in the talent show that evening. 

Sigh. I felt several different emotions. Sad - because my baby was hurting and I was at work and couldn't scoop him up and kiss him all over his face. Annoyed - because this was his idea, and he committed to it, and was now backing out at the last minute. Disappointed (slightly) - because I think if he had stuck with it, the payoff for him in hearing people cheer and completing the routine, would have made his day. Proud - because he's my son and I love him more than words can even describe, and no talent show or anything else will ever change that. This won't even be a blip on his radar in a week. 

I was telling a friend of mine this morning that I feel like he has this weird mixture of my and my husband's personalities. He's very social, loves to talk and joke around, and volunteer for things. But he also doesn't want to be the center of attention because he's desperately afraid of rejection/ridicule from his peers. 

I don't know which of these warring attributes will win out, or if they will both always be there. But I do hope for one very important thing: that he will always feel comfortable enough to tell me and his dad what he's feeling and never fear that we'll judge him or treat him any differently. And I hope he always knows that he doesn't need to get up in front of a crowd to know that he has talent, as well as his family's love and respect. 

I love you, little man. Always have, always will. 

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